Migraines are incredibly debilitating and also very mysterious. Although they affect 12% of the population (1 person in each household), they remain difficult to treat. But a new study suggests a solution: eat more fish and less fried foods.
A new study published in the journal BMJ looked at whether increasing the consumption of omega-3 fats (usually found in fish as well as many plant foods) would help people cope with their migraines. The researchers also wanted to reduce the omega-6 fats found in many processed oils. According to the study participants, this change in diet significantly reduced their headaches.
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“I haven’t had a migraine, not even a mild one, in over two years,” Tanya Kamka told the New York Times. “It was just amazing for me to go from one to none a week.”
Researchers found that a simple change in diet can greatly improve the lives of people with recurring migraines by reducing the number and severity of their seizures. “Many people with chronic pain continue to suffer despite taking medication,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Christopher E. Ramsden. “I think this could be incorporated into other treatments to improve their quality of life and relieve their pain.”
On average, participants had migraines for 16 days at the start of the study. The participants were divided into three groups. One followed a diet high in omega-3 fats and ate foods like wild salmon and albacore tuna and low in omega-6 fats. The second group ate more omega-3 fats but maintained their normal omega-6 fats intake. The last group was the control group, who consumed a normal amount of both fats.
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Study statistics said people had an average of 16 headaches a month. After 16 weeks of following their diet, the group that ate more fish and reduced their consumption of omega-6 fatty acids had an average of four days fewer headaches per month. The second group, who increased their fish consumption while maintaining their omega-6 fats, had 2 fewer headaches per month.
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According to researchers, the easiest way to practice this diet would be by consuming more oily fish like salmon, albacore tuna, trout, and anchovies. To avoid omega-6 fats, it helps to avoid fried and processed foods and to replace these oils with coconut, macadamia, and avocado oils.